Weren’t the Warriors supposed to be done with these stinkers at Oracle? Sure, they had already dropped home games this season to losing teams like the Cavaliers, Knicks, and even before to these same Nuggets. There were also losses in Oakland to teams hovering around .500, like the Wizards, Bobcats and Timberwolves. But after consecutive routs over the Kings and Jazz at Oracle Arena, all that nonsense was supposed to be in the past.
Nope. The Warriors fell at home to Denver for the second time this season, in a game that was more painful than most regular season losses. Don’t believe me, because you were busy watching the Giants lose a 15-hour game to the D-Backs? Okay wise guy/girl, here’s why this loss seemed so demoralizing:
- A win would’ve clinched a playoff berth, in the process making this squad the first to get there in consecutive years since the Tolbert Era. That’ll still happen, but it should’ve happened Thursday night. At home.
- The Warriors had a 20-point advantage in the second quarter.
- A Stephen Curry layup put the Warriors ahead with five seconds remaining. That looked like the game-winner until Kenneth Faried answered by overpowering
Andre IguodalaDraymond Green and scoring a basket at close range with less than a second left.
Or maybe I should just let Curry explain why this 100-99 loss felt like a kick to the soft tissue region.
“There are a lot of reasons why there’s a terrible feeling in the locker room. We could’ve taken care of a playoff spot, taken care of home court like we need to, going forward, in the playoffs,” he said.
“I don’t know if I’d call it a setback, but it’s definitely not how we envisioned this night going.”
Luckily for the Warriors, this loss probably won’t change their playoff seeding. It seemed likely that they’d be the sixth place team in the Western Conference before this loss, and they’ll probably remain in sixth and face the Clippers. Also, in the playoffs they won’t have to face the poor or even mediocre squads that seem to give them fits far more often than they should, especially at home.
In other words, Timofey Mozgov won’t be around to score 23 points and grab 29 rebounds. No, that’s not a misprint. But this is:
Only three blocks though RT @GWCapper @warriorsworld I knew Mozgov had a good game but dammmmmnnnn pic.twitter.com/kbEXaCNevv
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) April 11, 2014
The Nuggets missed a ton of shots, but they grabbed 25 offensive rebounds, and 63 total rebounds to the Warriors’ 38.
So what happened? Why did the Warriors fail to lock down a spot in the postseason against a team whose only reasons to care going in were personal pride and the chance to shine on national television while indulging in a little stat-padding? I asked Mark Jackson, Curry and Green how this could’ve happened after seemingly figuring out how to squash inferior teams earlier in the week.
“We finished (Sacramento and Utah) off. We took the lead and we put them away. I won’t say we defended them at a high level, because we defended at a high level tonight when you force a team to shoot 37 percent. But the difference is we closed out possessions. It’s awfully tough to beat teams, giving them 25 second-chance points. 25 offensive rebounds. It’s tough, no matter who you are. I think the difference is in those games is we continued to execute. We continued to be fundamentally sound. We continued to be unselfish. Tonight we didn’t do that.”
“I felt like we learned our lesson — regardless if you’re not hitting shots, playing with the energy that you need and controlling the paint and being physical. We waited too long to try to change the way that was going down low tonight and once they see the light, they crash the ball and it’s tough to stop them. It’s just an unfortunate night.”
“Absolutely (we thought we were over losses like these), but it happened. It’s these ones that you’ve got to cut out. But we didn’t and the focus really needs to pick up going into L.A. and Portland. Got to go win two games on this road trip.”
— Green started, but he played six fewer minutes than Harrison Barnes and was disappointed in one area of his stat line in particular.
“To get manhandled like that on the boards is frustrating,” Green said. “I take a lot of credit for that, having two rebounds. That’s not acceptable.”
— Steve Blake has scored three points in his last six games (123 minutes). He’s 1-for-10 on threes over that period, 1-for-14 overall.
— When a reporter asked Jackson how concerned he was about the consistency of his team’s focus with the playoffs approaching, the Warriors head coach refused to admit weakness and effectively said they’d learn these lessons with time.
“Well, I won’t co-sign that. We lost a ballgame. I won’t say that the Houston Rockets are inconsistent with their focus; they lost to the Nuggets last night,” Jackson said.
“I’m not concerned, because it’s part of the process. You talk about the Spurs in a game that they don’t have to win and they went into Dallas — a team that is at home and is supposed to be playing with a sense of urgency — and the Spurs win. It’s a mentality. They just didn’t get it overnight. That’s the next step for us.”